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Farid — Punjabi, Seraiki or what?

August 04, 2011

LAIKHA by Muhammad Aslam Rasoolpuri; pp 304; price Rs300 (hb); publishers Jhok Publishers, outside Daulat Gate, Multan.

Aslam Rasoolpuri is among early protagonists of Seraiki who in all their efforts pointed out differences between Punjabi of Doabi dialect and Seraiki, ignoring the vast commonalities between the language used by almost seven major classical poets from Farid Shakarganj to Khwaja Farid and Mian Muhammad Bukhsh. They deliberately avoided all those historical references, which prove that Khwaja Sahib considered himself a Punjabi poet and that can be proved from his lectures written and collected by Maulana Ruknuddin Perharvi of Sonk village near Faridabad in Khanpur tehsil of Rahim Yar Khan district.

Ruknuddin started recordings of Khwaja’s talks from June 4, 1885 up to August 21, 1893 (from footnotes) in Persian that were regularly wetted by Khwaja Sahib himself. The record was in five volumes out of which three were published by Farid’s son Khwaja Muhammad Bukhsh from Aagra and the fifth was published by grandson of Farid. This means that all were published by the family members themselves and no other person was involved in writing, calligraphy, editing, publication and circulation of the book, which was later translated into Urdu by Capt Wahid Bukhsh Sial of Ahmadpur Sharqia, Bahawalpur district and it was published from Lahore in October 2005 (Rasoolpuri’s information about the date of its publication is wrong. It was published in the last decade of the last century and it was reviewed in Dawn on October 13, 1998).

The last article of the book is a review of the Urdu translation of Wahid Bukhsh Sial in which Aslam Rasoolpuri, a lawyer by profession, has not taken note of Khwaja Farid’s clear verdict that language spoken in Chishtian, Mahar Sharif is Punjabi (P621) that means that the language spoken in the south of Punjab plus Bahawalpur was Punjabi in Khwaja Farid’s view. He had given no name to his language except Punjabi. Author Ruknuddin and translator Wahid Bukhsh Sial both belong to Bahawalpur state and Khwaja Farid was also living in Chacharran (Rahim Yar Khan district).

Wahid Bukhsh, being one of the staunch supporters of Seraiki as a separate language from Punjabi, inserted word Seraiki instead of Punjabi (P 756). It should not have been attributed to Khwaja Farid who used the word Punjabi as language at least at four places -- page 447, 621, 703 and 866. It’s being shortly produced in original.

The book includes 29 articles of which 9 are about Khwaja Farid and his poetry and his opposition to the British Raj. One wonders that Farid remained silent on the linguistic policy of the British and the Nawab. The British strategy was that the official language of almost all provinces and states of India was Persian and this should be replaced with Urdu developed in the Fort William College, under their orders. Urdu was much poor in terms of Muslim cultural assets than the Persian. Khwaja Farid is silent on that. Rather he adopted Urdu for his poetic expression and he was perhaps the first poet in the state and the province who contributed a Diwan to Urdu.

Aslam has divided his book into six sections -- theoretical criticism, practical criticism, research, world literature, art and evaluation or reviews. Writing about the letter written or signed by Farid, Aslam says Farid wrote these letters in Persian and Urdu and no other language like Seraiki, Sindhi or Hindi (P 142) has been used. Please note the prejudice of the lawyer-critic that though there is no close relation between Khwaja Sahib and Hindi and Sindhi languages, he mentions them meaning thereby that Farid had nothing to do with Punjabi, but what about Farid’s mentioning of Punjabi language in Maqabeesul Majalis. Lawyer and prominent literary critic Aslam Rasoolpuri may have some justification. In another article about music, Aslam says that the most favourite Qawwal of Farid was Barkat Ali from Amritsar and from his family comes Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan. Khwaja Sahib, according to Aslam, paid rich tribute to Barkat Ali and said he knew at least 400 raganis and he had total command on them. This is Aslam’s third book of critical essays well-produced by Jhok Publishers. ******

BAR-E-SAGHEER KI MAUSIQI, before and after the Independence War of 1857; pp 100; price Rs180; publishers Majlis-i-Taraqq-i-Adab, 2.Club Road, Lahore,

Inyat Elahi Malik, as a student of the Government College of Attock, emerged as a music artist. Having interest in writing, he wrote a book on classical music in Urdu in collaboration with one of his class fellows. After doing his master’s and law he settled in Lahore and was instructor at the former Staff College (now it bears some American name). Here, he wrote another book on current music and musicians. Thus he has three books on music to his credit. He translated Western fiction writers like Hemingway. Inayat published a collection of translated stories of Hemingway and his own collection of short stories. It was late in 2007 when with reference to War of Independence, he was asked to write a booklet on music and this small book is outcome of that which was published late in 2009.

As is obvious from the title page it has been divided into two sections… Before the War and After the War. Inayat’s concern is the music of 17th and 18th century and the music of 19th and 20th centuries. In his view the music of the subcontinent has the history of about two thousand years to which Hindus and Muslim made a great contribution and it cannot be called an exclusive Hindu or Muslim art. Goswami in his famous book Story of Hindustani Music writes: Gandhro music was given this name because it was developed in the area of Gandhara (Qanndhar, Peshawar, Taxila, Rawalpindi, Attock etc). It were the artists of this region who were excellent statue-makers and gave this art to other parts of the subcontinent and that now is called Gandhara Art.

Sajjad Sarwar Niazi, a famous musician and one of the senior producers of All-India Radio, also confirms Goswami’s findings but it is unfortunate that after the creation of Pakistan the land of Gandhara refused to own its musical heritage because the concept of history of Pakistan was kept limited to the time when Muhammad bin Qasim attacked Sindh. — STM